Surface Visibility (SV) may sound like a nautical or even aeronautical term, but to the U.S. Postal Service it refers to multiple systems integrated to scan and track mail transported within the postal network. In fact, if you've ever used USPS Tracking to find where a package is, SV scanning has helped provide the answer.

SV helps improve postal transportation by scanning different items such as mail containers and packages at various points in their journey. For instance, scanning incoming mail on the loading dock of a USPS processing and distribution center (P&DC) allows for advance notification of the volume of entering mail. For departing mail, scanning provides accurate information for planning purposes at downstream facilities.

The Postal Service’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 national scan-compliance goal is 94 percent. As of February 2, 2018, the reported rate was 90 percent. Individually, however, scan-compliance rates can vary significantly among some P&DCs.

To identify best practices that could improve scanning compliance, we recently looked at two high-performing sites and two low-performing sites in the Capital Metro Area based on their respective FY 2017 compliance rates. The Greensboro and Norfolk P&DCs reported average scan-compliance rates of 93 percent, and the Northern Virginia and Peachtree P&DCs reported 80 percent.

Management at the high-performing sites – Norfolk and Greensboro – reviewed daily scan data to identify problem areas, conducted spot checks of those areas to correct issues, and ensured scans were conducted. Additionally, supervisors discussed any problem areas with individual employees and during stand-up talks. These measures formed the basis of our recommendation on implementing best practices.

Problems at the low-performing sites included our finding that 23 scanners at the Northern Virginia P&DC and 20 scanners at the Peachtree P&DC could not be located, and none of them had connected to the SV network in the 30 days prior to our visits. At all four sites, we observed that about 48 percent of selected incoming mail containers and about 12 percent of selected outgoing mail containers did not have barcoded placards for scanning.

As a postal employee, what ideas do you have to improve scanning and SV?

We welcome your comments related to the topic on this page. Complaints about the Postal Service, including lost, stolen or mishandled mail, that are unrelated to the content on this page, will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

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Recent Comments

  • 2 days 11 hours ago
    Do you know if they declared the work on the machine as Mail handlers or clerk work? We are getting on in our plant soon, I believe this is the one.
  • 3 days 7 hours ago
    I love reading these articles about the deployment of high-tech scanning systems. But in the end, it's the people using them that matters. Yesterday, I got a delivery of two packages. The...

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